OK folks – let’s get to the meat of this story – let’s stop all this dilly dallying around and get to the crunch – the sex, the drugs, the rock and roll.
Oh shit – I forgot my mum reads this.
What I really meant to say was The Rock And The Roll.
Suffice to say, that after some verbal Flemish wrestling with the foreman of the building site where my car had been parked and establishing that - yes indeed my car had been towed away and that yes - I would have to go to the police station to sort everything out and yes – I would have to go to Hoboken on the outskirts of town to rescue the damn thing.
I must say that he was very apologetic but of course there was nothing he could do – the car was parked in a very stupid place.
Unlike, it has to be said, the member of
Granted, 5 days later I did look like something that crawled from under a rock, or at the very least, from out of my tent but still – there was no need for him to treat me the way he did.
Anyway, my very good and patient mate gave me a lift out to the pirates that were disguised as the towing company and after paying 125 euros, my trusty steed was back in my possession. This unexpected dent in my budget meant that I’d have to ignore the lure of the official merchandise stalls and make do with the T-shirts that I’d brought with me - but more about those later.
At last the weekend could begin!
Joining the rest of the gang for a trusty fry-up, courtesy of the English pub (I really do spend too much time in that place!), 6 of us set off to rock Werchter. We were to be joined by the rest of the group later on that day as they still had to work.
Initially I felt sorry for those guys but all thoughts of pity soon left me as we sat in a 4-hour traffic jam and then had to lug all our (and their) camping gear from the cars and then find a space and then set up all the tents - and all this in searing heat. I was beginning to think that they were the clever ones.
But this feeling was only temporary – having finally made our base for the weekend it then came to pass, that at around 18:00, we walked down the road, ignoring the beer and food tents that lined the route to the festival site (we would no doubt be there after the show finished) and entered Rock Werchter.
WE WERE FINALLY THERE!
Folks – you have no idea the buzz that I feel when I enter into something like this.
The only way I can describe it is to say that it is a wonderful sense of belonging - surrounded by tens of thousands of other people who have gone through exactly the same hassle and torture as you have and are there for exactly the same reason as you are – to chill the fuck out and have a bloody fantastic time.
I get the same rush when I walk into a packed sports stadium joining the throngs to take part in something that is just a little bit special - a collective gathering of like-minded people doing the thing that they love most. The collective passion is enough to give a eunuch a hard on, for crying out loud!
I realise that there are people out there for who the very idea of spending 5 days in a field with 80,000 sweaty people of all shapes and sizes has them out in a cold sweat as an acute case of ***phobia sets in but believe me – if I could find a way of bottling that feeling and selling it to the masses, I’d be the biggest drugs pusher on the planet.
First stop was to purchase the beer and food tokens. 50 euros per head was placed in the kitty (not for the last time that weekend) and off we went to get the supplies.
At the start of the festival, if you purchase 9 drinks, you get a very handy inflatable tray sponsored by my favourite Belgian girlfriend – Stella
However thanks to the most organised of the bunch (no – not me) and an absolute Godsend when it comes to these sort of things, we already had two from the previous year.
We got another one, just to be on the safe side.
Being the creatures of habit that we are, we then headed off to our Werchter Base Camp – a spot just to the left of a big set of speakers to the left hand side of the Main Stage as you look at it.
Now don’t get me wrong – we’re actually nowhere near the stage. At a distance of about 200 metres, we are far enough away from the stage to be able to spread out and lie down in the sun, but close enough to get our freak on when the notion takes us, only venturing into the masses when somebody special is performing.
Or until we’ve all had enough of the dancing juice inside us.
We leave all the moshing and bouncing around to the Real Rockers instead of us pretend ones. I guess I must be getting old, but when I see those kids bouncing around in the heat I get tired just looking at them but fair play to them – for without those guys – there is no festival.
Actually – it has to be said that we use this spot for another more important reason. The tower of speakers acts as a very useful landmark to guide the waifs and strays of the group who are in various states of drunkenness back to the others with the minimum of fuss and drama.
At least that’s the theory anyway.
There have been occasions were I have been that waif and that stray and in all states of drunkenness wandering around trying to find everyone.
But not this weekend I would like to stress - an achievement of which I can be very, very proud.
Settling into our favourite spot, we proceeded to get into the mood with the first band of our weekend - the mightily impressive rockers, Tool - definitely not music to play when your grandmother comes around to visit but most definitely music to kick the weekend of debauchery off with a bang.
WERCHTER HAD BEGUN!
As the night proceeded and the day got just a little cooler, we slowly approached our first major dilemma. A dilemma which I am happy to say we are faced with on several occasions, thanks to the fantastic line-ups that the organizers provide us with.
That dilemma being – Which Band Do We Watch?
For you see Rock Werchter has two stages – the Main Stage – located in field where upwards of 60000 people can join in the fun and where the bigger acts perform – and then the Marquee – a stage located within a huge open-sided marquee where around 6000 can fit inside with the rest of the revelers located outside watching proceedings from the outside on the big screen.
The choice that we were faced with was a tough one.
The Streets v The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Two of my top bands and both playing at the same time. What a nice problem to have on my birthday!
Both were bands that I have had the pleasure of watching in the past and both put on a great performance.
Most of us opted for The Streets with one die-hard amongst us remaining for RHCP.
With hindsight, I think we chose the best one. The Streets were fantastic. The great thing about watching bands perform live is that they try stuff that they wouldn’t normally do and I’m pleased to report that The Streets took this to another level. The songs were just recognizable with Mike Skinner being ably assisted on vocals by a huge black fella as the two of them dueled on stage.
They even threw snippets from The Red Hot Chili Peppers in for good measure, just in case some people were facing their own dilemma.
At this point I would just like to state for the record that I Can’t Dance. And no – I am not being modest.
However, when I am in the mood there is no stopping me and these guys most definitely got me in the mood. I bounced and swayed in the heat of the Marquee and sang along with all their classics. The grin on my face from ear to ear is permanent – like the grinning Cheshire Cat after he’s double dropped a couple of disco biscuits.
Little was I to know at the time that it was to be the highlight of my weekend but that’s just because they were so Fan-Fucking-Tastic.
Just when I thought the show could not get any better, they then took crowd participation to another whole level - a really simple idea but also an effective one.
“OK Werchter – on the count of three – I want every last one of you to get on the ground” Skinner instructed.
“And then when I say ‘JUMP’ – I want you all to jump up in the air and bounce”
Perhaps it was had to be there kind of moments but it worked for me. Cool as!
After they finished we had another dilemma – Black Eyed Peas v DJ Sanchez and I am glad to say we opted for the latter.
The Marquee – still on a high from The Streets (quite literally judging by the looks of some of them) continued to bounce and we partied with the masses until long after the show finished and they kicked us out of the festival and sent us back to our tents – but not before the obligatory stop in our favourite beer tent on the way home.
And that was were things REALLY started!
TO BE CONTINUED!